Movie: Terminator Genisys
Release Date: 1st of July
Bechdel Test: Fail
This reboot of the classic Terminator franchise sees this well known tale of preservation and destruction veer off its expected path. When John Connor, lead of the human resistance against their cybernetic adversaries, sends Sergeant Kyle Reese back in time to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah Connor, an unexpected turn of events leads to the creation of a fractured time line. In this world, nothing is as Reese expects, as he is assisted by unlikely allies and must face unexpected foes, as the team attempt to find a way to change the grim fate of the future of humanity before it’s too late. While certain aspects of the film fall short of its mighty predecessors, it’s got enough twists and turns to keep your head spinning and heart pounding – and that’s before you even try to understand the time travel. (Alternative universe? I’m still not sure!)
- Action-packed – When it comes to fight scenes, car chases and the odd explosion here and there, the Terminator franchise never fails to deliver, and while this instalment isn’t quite as brutal or fear-inducing as some of the older Terminator films, the action scenes still get your heart racing. The building of tension to the breaking point, (and in my case, jumping in fear point!) is executed particularly well on a number of occasions, proving that while Genisys might not be as ruthless as the brilliant T-1000 of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the fear still runs deep and cold.
- Throw it back – While it can never measure up to the original (or rather, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a true classic of the action movie genre) Terminator Genisys isn’t afraid to throw in a few call-backs to its predecessors. From its iconic one-liners to heartfelt death scenes, every Terminator fan in the theatre will appreciate these small acts of time travel via cinema. It’s the less obvious references that I really appreciated, however, as the first half of the film pays homage to ‘The Terminator’ in the best way, and it even gives a few nods to the short lived but brilliant TV show based on the franchise; The Sarah Connor Chronicles. While I didn’t catch them all at first, I loved discovering these few fixed moments in time, especially in a world where nothing is set in stone. And speaking of throw backs…
- Arnie attack! – The man. The legend. The former Governor of California. (He really has done it all, hasn’t he?!) Terminator Genisys marks the return Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role that defined his acting career, and he doesn’t disappoint. While he may not look like the T-800 we’ve come to know and love, he certainly still packs a punch, and proves that while he may be old, he is definitely not obsolete. Arnie’s evident aging from his last appearance on the screen as a cybernetic robot (something that CGI couldn’t really amend for the entirety of the film) is actually very cleverly explained with (perhaps somewhat dubious) scientific know-how, and is integral to the plot of the film. And while there have been rumours that the second instalment of this Terminator trilogy reboot will be Arnie’s last, something tells me that he’ll be back.
For the Females
- Sarah Connor – For years, and in her many incarnations, Sarah Connor has been a representation of a truly great action heroine. In the original trilogy, we got to watch Sarah grow, from innocent bystander dragged into a global, generation-spanning war, to a vulnerable, broken-down women who has been unfairly institutionalised because of her ‘visions,’ and finally a strong, capable fighter who will protect her son at all costs. She is a brave, fiercely compassionate woman who takes on her destiny head on despite the obvious misfortune it brings her, but this doesn’t make her reckless or fearless by any means. I greatly enjoyed the TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which, as the name suggests, focuses on Sarah herself, as a leader, mother and soldier in a war that’s before her time, the format allowing for a deeper development of relationships between the characters and an insight into Sarah’s complex being.
- Emilia Clarke – After witnessing all of this, therefore, Emilia Clarke’s personification of Sarah Connor was always doomed to fall short for me, albeit through no fault of her own. Her immediate capability and knowledge of her destiny, while making her a more active member of the team, felt strangely rushed, while also juxtaposing against her almost cliché-teenage reactions to certain plot points and somewhat immature defiance (which, to be fair to the nineteen year old character, fits the bill). This being said, Clarke’s vulnerability and fear for what is expected of her does shine through later on in the film, though I did find myself leaving the theatre in want of something more. (Specifically, a rewatch of the brilliant Lena Headey in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.)
Unsurprisingly, yet still upsettingly, the film failed the Bechdel Test, with Sarah Connor being the only named female lead, and while she is a truly epic character that defines heroism (for me, anyway!) when it comes to female action heroes, one is never, EVER, enough.